Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Tag: Oggs

The predicament.

As we have already noted, according to the laws of the colonial period, illegitimate children acquired the status of the mother, and this ruling explains the predicament of John Oggs’ children. Oggs was a bachelor whose housekeeper and cook was his slave, a Negro woman named Hester. By her he fathered four offspring, two males and two females. To “my gairl Alley (Alice)” and “my boy Jesse” he devised an equal interest in the plantation whereon he lived. To “my gairl Prudence” and “my boy Charles” he bequeathed the “land on the Island.” The total acreage of his real estate was between two and three hundred acres. He had failed, however, to provide for the manumission of either the mother or her children and since the law prohibited a slave from owning real property, the complications produced by the will became immediately evident. Here were properties clearly intended for individuals who were unable to exercise the privileges of ownership.

This peculiar state of affairs continued for a period of eighteen years, the boy Jesse having died in the meantime, when John Hamilton solved the problem by sponsoring a special legislative enactment, doubtless at the behest of interested persons in Camden and in Pasquotank. Following are quoted pertinent passages from the act finally passed by the State Legislature: “And whereas, the within mentioned Hester, and her children Charles, Alley and Prudence Oggs, are recommended to this General Assembly by several very respectable inhabitants of Camden and Pasquotank, as worthy of being manumitted and set free agreeable to the intentions of their father John Oggs. . . . Be it therefore enacted, that the said Negro woman Hester, and her children Charles, Alley and Prudence Oggs, are hereby manumitted and set free to all intents and purposes, and to possess all rights and privileges as if they had been born free.”

Exercising their long-delayed rights of ownership, for a few years the Oggs heirs sold and bought real estate. The father had owned one tract located in a neighborhood now known as Wickham, and the other was on Indian Island. Prudence finally purchased fifty acres on Indian Island, where she apparently spent her last days. Hester and the other two children later assumed the surname of Dixon. Eventually they sold all their possessions and departed for parts unknown.

Excerpt from Jesse F. Pugh, Three Hundred Years Along the Pasquotank (1957).

An Act to Invest a Right of Inheritance.

At a General Assembly, begun and held at Fayetteville, on the second Day of November, in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty-Nine, and in the Fourteenth Year of Independence of the said State; being the first session of the said Assembly.  Samuel Johnston, Esq., Governor.

CHAPTER XXXIII.

An Act to Invest an Indefeasible Right of Inheritance in Charles, Alley and Prudence Oggs, the Surviving Natural Children of John Oggs, of the County of Pasquotank, of such Property as was Bequeathed to them and their Deceased Brother Jesse Oggs.

Whereas, it hath been made appear to this General Assembly, that John Oggs late of the county of Pasquotank, hath departed this life, leaving behind him four natural children, Charles, Alley, Prudence and Jesse, by his negro slave Hester, to whom he bequeathed all his real and personal estate by virtue of a certain last will and testament: And whereas, by the policy of the law the said children, being bastards, are debarred from the rights of inheritance, and being recommended to this General Assembly as persons of good fame: And whereas, Jesse, one of the children is dead:

I. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the state of North Carolina, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That the above mentioned Charles, Alley and Prudence Oggs, are hereby invested in an indefeasible right of inheritance of all and singular the lands and tenements, goods and chattels which were bequeathed to them by their father John Oggs, in virtue of his last will and testament; and that they hold and take the said property to them and their heirs and assigns forever, agreeably to the directions of the said will, and the intentions of the said John Oggs therein expressed.

And whereas, the within mentioned Hester, and her children Charles, Alley and Prudence Oggs, are recommended to this General Assembly by several very respectable inhabitants of the counties of Camden and Pasquotank, as worthy of being manumitted and set free agreeable to the intention of their father John Oggs:

II. Be it therefore enacted, That the said negro woman Hester, and her children Charles, Alley and Prudence Oggs, are hereby manumitted and set free to all intents and purposes, and to possess all the rights and privileges as if they had been born free.

Acts of the North Carolina General Assembly, 1789. Colonial and State Records of North Carolina.